Thursday, October 26, 2006

Why I hate Nestlé

Dear Nestlé,

It feels funny writing ‘dear’, since nothing about your company is ‘dear’ except the pricing of your inferior goods. However, to be formal, I will bow to convention and address you as above. I’ve been boycotting your products for many years now – since I was 12, in fact. I won’t lie to you, it has had its harder moments, and I have had slippages. During a Lentan fast to raise money for Concern, I snuck a Drifter from the tuck shop in school, and a couple of months ago I bought a packet of Jelly Tots, forgetting that your nefarious reach has now also tainted Rowntrees.

Despite these slips, I feel that I have conducted myself well in the boycott – explaining my choice to as many people as possible, and finding some very willing to follow suit and join the good fight. What follows is my testimony as to why I continue with the battle, even in the face of continued rise in earnings for your company.

One of the more arrant corporate wrongs perpetrated on the third world poor has been to encourage young mothers to purchase expensive baby formula to feed their newborn babies. Nestlé, being the Swiss corporate giant you are, did this through incredibly unsubtle and irresponsible marketing techniques. Giving the poor hospitals of Africa beautiful multicoloured brochures of young mothers in radiantly clean modern rooms of white, feeding their attractive babies, with their model husbands standing by to embrace mother and child lovingly. Along with this fantastic brochure, these young mothers got a few bags of the baby formula for free. So far, you are performing to standard, Nestlé – for what are you offering that isn’t needed? Well, for one thing, breastfeeding is relegated to a second place option, and the mother now feels that to give her baby the best in life, she must purchase this formula. For another thing, the formula is very expensive – so expensive, in fact, that a mother might starve herself or her other children to buy the baby formula, so that she can live up to this perfect model of motherhood given to her in the promotional brochure.

Areas of Africa most beset by poverty have no clean supply of water, and labour under a general lack of knowledge within the population as to the health risks associated with drinking tainted supplies. The lack of information given to these young mothers causes them to mix the baby formula with this water, choosing this First World food over her own healthier, and more sanitary, breast milk. Even in instances where the water is clean, to make the formula last longer the mother will often water it down rather than force another expense upon her and her family. Whatever pathetic nutritional value the formula had now becomes nonexistent, and puts the child at risk of malnutrition. The situation with dirty water can bring on acute and chronic conditions on babies, which can last the rest of their lives, and in particularly horrific situations, can bring about the death of a newborn.

The World Health Organisation has consistently admonished Nestlé for their advertising practices in Africa. The advertising laws in relation to the selling of baby milk formula clearly attempt to prevent companies from:

1. Advising the use of baby milk products instead of breast milk.
2. Comparing the products to breast milk
3. Advertising alternatives to breast milk without providing sufficient information in that advertisement.

You contravene international marketing laws by printing your packaging instructions in English, and you do not advise young mothers on the necessity of using clean water – does human life not matter to you? Obviously not, since you continue to present your be-pictured brochures showing these uneducated, frightened, young mothers that formula is better than breast milk, and you skirt laws by never blatantly saying it within the pages – just leave them with the suggestion that life is better with Nestlé. You continue with your plan to prey on the poor and uninformed, leaving death and disease in your wake, and I refuse to support you by buying your products.

Other just as valid reasons for my total hatred of your company and everything you stand for are as follows:

Your children's cereals are incredibly expensive, and have a huge amount of added sugar. The sugar content of Honey Nut Cheerios, for example, runs at 35.2% - over a third of the total. They also contain overly generous helpings of salt – using Honey Nut Cheerios as an example again, a recommended serving will give me half a gram of salt, which is quite a large portion of my recommended six grams for the whole day…from a sweet cereal! This wouldn’t bother me so much, except that your advertising consistently shouts that they are healthy and have added vitamins…synthetic vitamins that you add after you have over processed the cereal, removing the natural vitamins. Examples of some of your horrible-sounding ingredients are: Partially Inverted Brown Sugar Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Trisodium Phosphate, Flavouring, Antioxidant, Tocopherols. What you say is healthy is really just, let’s be honest, crap, and you can give away as many school books as you want, and claim to support children’s wellbeing as much as you like, but my children will not be eating your cereals.

Your company treats coffee farmers across the world abominably, despite attempts by right-minded individuals to make the coffee trade a fairer one. Millions of people are out of work by your refusal to trade fairly or to concede any ground at all in your moneyed interests. You bully powerless people, you destroy businesses and you continue to refuse to include Fair Trade coffee in your range – declining to even give your own customers a choice.

Nestlé, you misrepresent the way you do business, and you cause immense suffering to real people around the world. You employ hundreds of marketing and advertising men to spin the truth, but why don’t you just try investing the thousands wasted on these spin-doctors back into the poor and dispossessed people you mistreat and bully?

As a conglomerate corporation, it drives me crazy that your dirty little fingers are in every pie, and seemingly intent on world domination. Coffee, chocolate, cereals, pet food, and soft drinks – you buy brands like penny sweets. I don't want to buy anything you have anything to do with, and I resent the fact that you're making it so difficult for me.

Your promotions are designed to blackmail parents into buying a nutritionally poor, ridiculously sweet cereal for their children's breakfasts. Books for kids, sponsored breakfast weeks – you, yet again, prey on those who know no better.

To summarise all of the above as succinctly as possible, everything you do is underhand and dirty, and I resent every attempt you make to wheedle your way into my supermarket trolley.

I check every packet, every label, for any hint of your name, and if it’s there – no matter how much I love Drifters, and miss Cheerios, and want Maybelline foundation – there is no way I will be purchasing your products. Nor will my children, my children’s children, or, if I have anything to do with it, my extended family, my neighbours, or my friends.

One way or another, it will all come back to you, Nestlé – and I will be in the cheering crowd when your back’s finally against the wall.

Yours sincerely, and with the intention of your eventual demise as a company,

Sarah Griffin.

Some recognisable products that Nestlé own or part own
(taken from
It may surprise you how much they actually control:

Perrier, Vittel, Milo, Nesquik, Nestea, Rowntree ice creams, Ski yogurts, Sveltesse yogurts, Buitoni pasta & canned foods

Rowntrees Jellies, Cheerios & Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon and Golden Grahams Clusters, Shreddies, Fitnesse, Shredded Wheat, Shreddies

Aero, After Eights, Animal Bar, Black Magic, Drifter, Fruit Pastilles, Jellytots, Kit Kat, Lion Bar, Milky Bar, Munchies, Quality Street, Rolo, Rowntrees Fruit Gums, Smarties, Toffee Crisp, Walnut Whip, Willy Wonka, Yorkie

Garnier, Colgate Dental Gum, Lancome, L'Oreal, Maybelline

Felix, Friskies, Winalot

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


As my boycott of all things Shell enters it’s 14th year, I feel I should explain some of the reasons why, at an early age, I bullied my parents into driving past Shell stations to the next petrol stop, and why I refused to buy any products from Shell stations throughout my teen years, and why, since buying my car, I have driven on empty rather than pull in under their pathetically ‘clean-air’ evoking seashell sign.

It all began, as the Chemical Brothers put it, in Africa. A story I read in the Irish Times of protests in Nigeria led to my campaign, and I have extracted a paragraph from ‘The Other Shell Report 2003’ (, which explains it best:

Ken Saro-Wiwa
“Ken Saro-Wiwa was president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), an organization fighting to defend the environmental and human rights of the Ogoni people.

Since the late 1950’s, Shell has been operating in Nigeria, extracting more than US$30 billion of oil and contaminating the farmland and fisheries of the Ogoni. Many of the fish and wildlife in the area have vanished. Ken Saro-Wiwa mobilized his people to demand compensation from Shell for oil spills on Ogoni farmland and in the wetlands, rivers, and streams of the Niger Delta. In January 1993, Ken brought together 300,000 Ogoni who took to the streets in the largest demonstration against an oil company in history.

In May 1994, Ken was abducted from his home and arrested with other MOSOP leaders for the alleged murder of four Ogoni leaders. In October 1995, despite the protests of people around the world, including government officials from other countries and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Ken and eight co-defendants were convicted by a military tribunal and hanged. Many Ogoni believe that the only crime committed by Ken Saro-Wiwa was his daring to stand up to Shell.”

“Ken Saro-Wiwa, a well-known Nigerian award-winning author and activist, was executed by the Nigerian government in 1995.”

At the moment, Shell is continuing it’s aggressively awful environmental policy around the world – extending their black fingers to Ireland. From, here are some of the worst offences highlighted to the Shell AGM recently:

“In the Niger Delta, where Shell sources 10 per cent of its oil, the company's failure to invest in technology results in 700 millionscf/d of gas being burnt off into the environment, an increase on last year, despite a commitment to end flaring by 2008. Gas flaring wastes energy, contributes to global warming and pollutes the environment. But gas flaring has become an every-day feature for the communities in the Delta. Oil spills are also common - with 9,900 barrels of oil spilt in 2003. Oil spills are frequently left rather than cleaned up, contaminating farmland, water courses and fish supplies.

In Texas, Shell is facing legal action from the community living next door to its operations in Port Arthur who are literally sick of the pollution in their backyard. Some 1,200 residents are alleging air, soil and other contamination due to the release of "noxious fumes, vapours, odours and hazardous substances" from the Motiva refinery, which processes 235,000 barrels of oil a day.

Legal wrangles also face Shell in the Philippino capital Manila where the company's oil depot is sited in the centre of a residential community; and in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the company stands accused of contaminating drinking water and causing serious health problems including cancers, infertility and respiratory diseases.

On the Caribbean island of Curaçao, Shell walked away from these problems, selling its refinery to the Government in 1985 after operating for more than 70 years. Pollution from the refinery has contaminated the small island which is surrounded by 20 km of coral reef, and severely damaged the health of the community with complaints of premature deaths, cancers, birth defects, bronchitis, skin diseases and asthma. Local residents are now campaigning to hold Shell liable.

In Louisiana, where community campaigner Margie Richard was this year awarded the Goldman Prize for her campaign for environmental justice from Shell, the community is still fighting for the right to health care after years of exposure to pollution from Shell's refinery in Norco. Shell responded by commissioning a study of community perceptions and not health.”
Sourced from

So, it began with the deaths of innocents in Africa, and has continued through their abuses and waiving of international laws, and total disregard for human life. They trod on those who cannot fight back, and as usual the cry of those without a voice barely dints this First World. Therefore, I'll boycott Shell for as long as I can, and have recently added Statoil to my list of stations I will not support with my hard-earned money…since their jumping into bed with Shell on the Corrib gas line in Ireland.


Friday, October 20, 2006


Karl Marx felt that this class lacked the political consciousness required to lead a revolution. Newton (Black Panthers Party), on the other hand, was inspired by his reading of post-colonial theorist Frantz Fanon and his belief that the lumpen was of utmost importance, saying about these "brothers off the block" that, “If you didn't relate to these cats, the power structure would organize these cats against you.”

‘The “dangerous class,” the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society.’

Here we see Marx’s conception of the Lumpenproletariat, a group that stands on the very margins of the class system because they are not wholly integrated into the division of labour. They do not accept the idea of making their living by regular work. Thus, their position within society is not marked by the fact that they are unemployed but rather by the fact that they do not seek employment:

‘the lumpenproletariat, which in all big towns forms a mass sharply differentiated from the industrial proletariat, a recruiting ground for thieves and criminals of all kinds living on the crumbs of society, people without a definite trade, vagabonds, gens sans feu et sans aveu [men without hearth or home], varying according to the degree of civilization of the nation to which they belong, but never renouncing their lazzaroni character’.

Though they may be swept up by a proletarian revolution and are entirely capable of “the most heroic deeds and the most exalted sacrifices”, they are equally capable of “the barest banditry and the foulest corruption”, and are much more likely to play the part of “a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.”

Essentially, they are a malleable populace that is generally tempted into service of sight, as opportunistic and exploitative as the finance aristocracy. “The finance aristocracy, in its mode of acquisition as well as in its pleasures, is nothing but the rebirth of the lumpenproletrait on the heights of bourgeois society”, Just like the aristocracy, the Lumpen live off society, rather than producing for it, existing as an entirely parasitic force.

The Black Panthers’ basic understanding of the Lumpenproletariat generally conforms to that of Marx. For Eldridge Cleaver, the Lumpenproletariat were those who had “no secure relationship or vested interest in the means of production and the institutions of a capitalist society.” His wife echoed a similar sentiment, stating that the black Lumpenproletariat had absolutely no stake in industrial America: “They existed at the bottom level of society…outside the capitalist system that was the basis for the oppression of black people.”

The Panthers included two distinct groups within the Lumpen. Firstly the “Industrial Reserve army”, who could not find a job, being unskilled and unfit, displaced by mechanization and never invested with new skills, forced to rely on Welfare or receiving State Aid. They consisted of ‘the millions of black domestics and porters, nurses’ aides and maintenance men, laundresses and cooks, sharecroppers, unpropertied ghetto dwellers, welfare mothers’ The second group were the so-called “Criminal Element”, who had similarly been locked out of the economy, and consisted of the ‘gang members and the gangsters, the pimps and the prostitutes, the drug users and dealers, the common thieves and murderers’.

The “Criminal Element” quite evidently displayed the key characteristics of the Lumpen, the parasite, “existing off that which they rip off”. However, the “Industrial Reserve Army” poses something of a problem, since a large proportion of this group consists of the working poor (although their jobs are “irregular and usually low paid’ they are the working poor all the same). But Marx explicitly stated that the Lumpenproletariat formed “a mass sharply differentiated from the industrial proletariat.” However, the Panthers viewed the line that separated the proletariat and the lumpen as tenuous and fragile, and this resulted in a blending of the two classes. Indeed, some historians have argued that the Panthers “envisioned a lumpen more akin to a subproletariat class” that lacked the parasitical aspects of the traditional lumpen sector.”

Amended version of paragraphs from

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Is ‘de-nuclearization’ a word?

The man himself, from

THE PRESIDENT: Last night the government of North Korea proclaimed to the world that it had conducted a nuclear test. We're working to confirm North Korea's claim. Nonetheless, such a claim itself constitutes a threat to international peace and security. The United States condemns this provocative act. Once again North Korea has defied the will of the international community, and the international community will respond.

This was confirmed this morning in conversations I had with leaders of China, and South Korea, Russia, and Japan. We reaffirmed our commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, and all of us agreed that the proclaimed actions taken by North Korea are unacceptable and deserve an immediate response by the United Nations Security Council.

The North Korean regime remains one of the world's leading proliferator of missile technology, including transfers to Iran and Syria. The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable of the consequences of such action.
The United States remains committed to diplomacy, and we will continue to protect ourselves and our interests. I reaffirmed to our allies in the region, including South Korea and Japan, that the United States will meet the full range of our deterrent and security commitments.

Threats will not lead to a brighter future for the North Korean people, nor weaken the resolve of the United States and our allies to achieve the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Today's claim by North Korea serves only to raise tensions, while depriving the North Korean people of the increased prosperity and better relations with the world offered by the implementation of the joint statement of the six-party talks. The oppressed and impoverished people of North Korea deserve that brighter future.

Thank you.

The satire, courtesy of the brilliant

THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans. Shortly before 10:30 this morning, I was roused from my bed by an assistant, and informed that North Korea's Kim Jong Il – the secretive, delusional egomaniac who only became a leader on account of his famous daddy (rolls eyes incredulously) – has announced his country's first-ever nukular weapon test.

Clearly, this a major, historicalistic development; the kind of crisis that makes folks hunger for the sort of rugged, pioneering, bulging-codpiece leadership they've come expect from me during the many, many absolute catastrophes I've caused or made worse. And though there were no cameras there to capture the moment, I want to assure America that I came through yet again: because when they told me that a crazy Chinkotronic leprechaun had the Bomb, only the teensy-weensiest little lump of Texas topsoil seeped out into the Presidential PJ's. (Thumbs up.)

I do confess that it came as a huge surprise that any component of my genius foreign policy wasn't worked perfectly. I mean, I thought I had it down to a science: rain wave after wave of horrific violence on spent, impotent dictators, while actively ignoring psychotic despots who are publicly promising to develop weapons of mass destruction. Who'd a thunk things could go wrong?

I'm reminded of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day?" You know the part where that tough chick with the big hoo-has is at the playground and she sees all the kids playing, and the starts rattling and banging on the fence trying to get their attention, and all the other mothers are just ignoring her because they think she's crazy, and then there's this huge explosive holocaust that kills everyone and turns the chick into a Kentucky Fried corpse, and the explosion takes out like an entire goddamn city, and you're like, "Whooooooa?" Great scene, right?

I always thought that if anyone in the real world was unleashing explosive holocausts, it would be ME, and the city would be actually be an bunch of caves or mosques or kimchee factories, or wherever evildoers live. (And the chick would have bigger tits.) But with today's developments in Koreastan, it turns out I was a little bit off the mark. Now, the city might be Jew York or Homowood, California, and explosion can be courtesy of some slanty-eyed nerd with a bad haircut.

And so tonight, I have a message for Kim Jong Il:
Listen up, Dogbreath – because I want to make one thing clear: Sure, you may have the Bomb. Sure, one of my first acts as President may have been dismantling the one treaty that could have convinced you it would be a bad idea to use it. Sure, I've been deliberately ignoring you like the smelly kid in class who always wears sweatpants, when all you've ever wanted in your life was for someone to give you five minutes of attention. But know this: you may feel like a big boy now that you've got some fancy nukes at your disposal, but I've got a pretty nifty trick of my own: nicknames. When I give a nickname to something, it sticks, and my new name for North Korea is "Iraq 2."

Yes, the USA Unilateral Pre-Emptive War Machine ball is already rolling, my friend. I got on the horn first thing this afternoon, and I started talking at some other world leaders, and I am using a combination of threats, brute force and complete ignorance about your country, culture, and people to alienate them as we speak. Soon, the only people with the will to stand up to you will be us and the Limeys, and you see how well we've done in Texraq. So give it up, you four-eyed Asiatic gopher! If you think I'm not up to the challenge of throwing wave after wave of the disposable lower class losers who make up the military I pretend to respect at your impregnable fortress of a country, you've got another thing coming. What do you think about that, you sissy little pygmy?

I'll be waiting for your reply. At a secret location. In a super, super-deep bunker. Snug and safe.

Good luck, America.

P.S. Have you typed the word 'failure' into Google lately? Perhaps you should....

Monday, October 09, 2006

Interim Bloggadoodle

OK, I’ve been out of things for a while – and haven’t got around to putting pen to paper, blog-style. OU exams are looming, so here’s a joke to keep my blogger fresh, while I pine around growing stale with study!

It’s a test with only one question, but it's a very important one…by giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally (which is important for us all to know). The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision.

Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous. Please scroll down slowly and give due consideration to each line. Good luck.


You are in Florida, Miami to be specific. There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding. This is a flood of biblical proportions. You are photojournalist working for a major newspaper, and you're caught in the middle of this epic disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless. You're trying to shoot career-making photos. There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing under the water.

Nature is unleashing all of its destructive fury.


Suddenly you see a woman in the water. She is fighting for her life, trying not to be taken down with the debris. You move closer. Somehow the woman looks familiar. You suddenly realize who it is. It's the Queen.

At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to take her under forever. You have two options--you can save the life of the Queen, or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo, documenting the death of one of the world's most famous women.


Here's the question, and please give an honest answer....

Would you select high contrast colour film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?